patrickandaudrey1.jpgAnother of my "Amazing Graces" Audrey Irvine and I have been dear friends since her days at Clark Atlanta University and my days at Morehouse. During that time, we competed for airtime at CAU-TV as we both were studying to be news anchors/hosts. Like a campy episode of "Dynasty" or "Dallas", you would have thought we were battling for millions of dollars versus some public cable access. Again, we went head-to-head for a prized internship at WSB-TV and along with our other buddy Lonnie, we both got it. There, we learned to work together and join each other in forwarding our respective pursuits. Audrey, who worked the night shift, would even give me her car when I got off... and I could work the city and its many happy hours and free buffets as long as I was back to pick her up at 11:30 pm. Since that time, we've stayed in touch from across the miles. She now works for CNN. I am working 'the life of Riley'. Whenever we come together for the National Association of Black Journalists' convention, we laugh and laugh and laugh as we count on our time at this annual gathering to be the "spa treatment for which our egos long". One year in Washington DC, Audrey couldn't wait for me to see her hot, new haircut which inspired - let her tell it - so many people to call her "Toni Braxton". Well, in the course of the week (as we were attached at the hip), I never saw anyone mistake her for "Toni Braxton". Fast forward to the eve of our departure, Audrey and I are walking out of D.C. Live, a nightspot where she and I got our groove on. In good spirits, we walked cautiously from the venue to our hotel as it was late and there was a homeless man waking up from his slumber on the sidewalk. As we walked on by him, we caught a whiff of urine and the sound of his voice, calling to Audrey: "Toni Braxton!!!!!". I exploded in laughter, knowing that Audrey finally got what she wanted - someone to acknowledge her as "Toni Braxton". Moved to the point where I could not breathe and my sides were splitting, I fell --- full-bodied --- to the urine-tinged ground until I could gather my senses. Audrey, meanwhile, was embarassed to no end that I had to witness the one person -- not a conventioneer -- who called her just what she wanted. I teased her about this for the rest of our time at the convention and I still tease her about it today. It always brings a smile to our faces and lots of laughter to kick off the times we spend.

2-18-2007-22.jpgValentine's Day was no exception. My Audrey was in town to see the Broadway musical "The Color Purple" and for a bird flu conference (Don't ask). As a result of my being snowed out of Chicago, where I had an assignment, I was free to do dinner with Audrey and my new Morehouse buddy Khalid. We chose Maroons Restaurant on 16th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues) (Maroons: New York: Maroons). It's a hybrid of caribbean and southern cuisine. And over the years, I've gone there often. thebeautifulpeopleMaroons111.13.05My Nichole and I have done lots of sets there, which inspires the owner Mitchell to ask about her (and vice versa) when we are there without each other. Also, Maroons is the setting for one of the last pictures of my late soul mate Kodjoe and me. It's a special place, indeed.  patrickandkodjoe.bmp

Of course, I would have loved to be with my Anthony for this amorous holiday, but he had already represented with the loveliest card from our ATL trip (COVER: "You're the Man I Love"). So in his absence, Audrey, Khalid, and I had to just call LOVE forth through our respective meals, the rum punches of the night, and our LOVE for Karaoke, which followed. 2-18-2007-11.jpg I called my Karaoke pusher-man Dante to see if he wanted to join us for a Valentine's night session. He and his partner Marcus enthusiastically agreed. With that, we hit our same spot Karoke One 7 (www.karaoke17.com). It's on 17th Street just on the threshold of the Grammercy Park/Flatiron Districts in Manhattan. Keep in mind, the way that Audrey and I battle for the spotlight. Imagine our tensions for the solos. As they say, "If you can't beat them, join them". 2-18-2007-15.jpgSo, often we would share the mic on duets (or we'd turn solo songs into duets). Our "Beautiful Ones" by Prince shut the kids down. Also, Audrey and Khalid did a few numbers together. 2-18-2007-13.jpgAnd I managed to lure a half dozen or so strangers into our room as I performed the big closer: "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". Of course, with Jennifer Hudson on the brain so much of late, I found myself schizophrenically singing the arrangment, which was Jennifer Hollidays. I was going back and forth between each of the divas licks on the respective recordings. Lots of fun! 2-18-2007-17.jpg2-18-2007-07.jpg

The next night, I was invited to the Time Warner Building in Columbus Circle for an invitation-only sneak peek of the summer release "Hairspray", the remake of the Broadway musical, which was adapted from John White's dark-humored original for the big screen. 2-18-2007-06.jpgOn the heels of having a "liquid lunch" with my Audrey, who had to leave town, I let a bicycle cabbie take me up from the Bryant Park Grill to the Time Warner building as finding a cab was impossible. This was my view as we were getting ready to pass Radio City Music Hall on Avenue of the Americas. 2-18-2007-04.jpgKhalid met me at the screening. This version, out July 20th, stars Queen Latifah and John Travolta (as the mother of the show's star). travolta_hairspray.jpgThe director Adam Shankman - along with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (who produced Diana Ross and Brandy in "Double Platinum") - presented a 25-minute teaser, chockful of the film's musical excerpts. doubleplatinum.jpgAnd though I figured I'd love it as I love the Broadway musical, I started to get "Dreamgirls"-esque palpatations as I watched the scenes. Not sure I'll do a 12-day campaign (as I did with "Dreamgirls", which I've now seen 15 times), but "Hairspray" is a must-see for everyone. The moments we saw brought us such joy! Hairspray_half_face.jpg

may4friends.jpgFrom there, I attended the New York Association of Black Journalists 19th Annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner at Columbia University's Roone Arledge Auditorium. Since 1995, I've writtten the script and and produced this event. I've sat on the dinner committee. I've sung "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" at the top of the annual night for five of these years. I've presented awards and hosts. And I've been the auctioneer for some of the LIVE auction prizes in the past. I've even won a few of the awards over the year, including being honored as NYABJ's Volunteer of the Year for its "Trailblazer Awards" in 2003. This year, however, I just attended and what a good feeling that was to sit back and relax. My friend Michael K. Watts did a brilliant job on this year's script (as he has in recent years). wabc_200.sandrabookmanmichaelandpatrick.jpgAnd Sandra Bookman (from WABC) and Dana Tyler (from WCBS) were great hosts. photo_tyler.jpgI also got the chance to see some friends I usually only see on nights like these, including Robin Stone and her son Zachary; my good girlfirend Michelle Hord; and Dante (from my Karaoke nights). NYABJ's lifetime achievement award in broadcast journalism was formally renamed the Ed Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award. The recepient was legendary WABC-TV newsman Art McFarland, who was presented with his award by Mr. Bradley's widow, Patricia Blanchet. British-born CBS photographer Paul Douglas, received a lifetime achievement award in photographywho posthumously as he was killed last year in Iraq. His widow, Linda, accepted the honor. Also awarded: WNBC-TV's Janice Huff for her community service. NPR's Farai Chideya and The New York Times' Brent Staples were also honored. Great night for NYABJ!!!!

erninsavValentine's Day is also my Ern's birthday. He was in Philadelphia for work on the day itself. So, I took it upon myself to celebrate with him yesterday. I took him to our favorite Houston's for Saturday's "Firehouse Chili". Then, Khalid joined Ern and me at Ern's place for champagne, other cocktails, and a viewing of one of my favorite DVDs "Jackie's Back", a mockumentary of a diva making a comeback starring Jennifer Lewis (as Jackie Washington).  jackiesback.jpg It never fails to entertain and leave us howling with laughter. Once we found out Khalid loved it too, we all knew we should get together and enjoy it. Too bad our Audrey had to leave to go back as so much of what "Jackie's Back" represents is the diva my Audrey sometimes knows she is in her mind (and sometimes me too.). 2-18-2007-19.jpg If you haven't seen "Jackie's Back", you must pick it up immediately. The Robert-Townsend directed flick which originally ran on Lifetime is a cult and camp classic. "ENTENDRE...!!!!!!"





Posted on Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 08:04PM by Registered CommenterTHE LIFE OF RILEY in | CommentsPost a Comment | References7 References

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